Race 13 - Day 5
Crew Diary - Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland to Den Helder, Netherlands
18 August

Trudy O’Donovan
Trudy O’Donovan
Team IchorCoal
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Greetings from the GSI,

I'm very happy to report that Colin the green monster has stayed away again-happy days! What a difference it has been to Leg 5 and I am not going to complain one bit!! We as a team had a fantastic time in Derry, lots and lots giggles, banter, dancing and general fun. It was super to catch up with family and friends and be able to share a little of the Clipper Race experience with them too.

It has been a very interesting and perhaps challenging race so far. After spending four years studying in Aberdeen in north-east Scotland, I have experienced the cold blustery weather first hand throughout my time there. Little did I think that I would be de-layering down to shorts and t-shirts and donning the factor 50 sun cream in the middle of the North Sea. I was prepped with mid-layers, fleeces, waterproof socks and even borrowed Lizzie's dry suit (thanks Lizzie!) all ready for ice-cold, windy, wet weather that would just cut through you! Although it has been lovely to de-layer and enjoy some sunshine, it has meant that we have been stuck and I mean stuck - we spent a considerable amount of time last night bobbing about at 0.00 knots! There were cheers of excitement at the slightest move of the dial upwards!! Thankfully we are now moving again, trimming like crazy to keep the boat moving in the right direction to Den Helder.

With Aberdeen being a base city for the 'oil riggers', I have always been somewhat intrigued as to what they are like. Well, they vary in size and are completely different in the day time and at night. During our slow spell last night we spent quite a few hours around a larger rig covered in what looked like Christmas tree fairy lights, white, red and green – amazing! Most of my time in Aberdeen would have been during the winter months where at times it would have been dark for a good proportion of the day. Thankfully now, there is very little darkness, sun setting very late, almost close to midnight, rising again around 4am and we being spoiled with beautiful skies on each of these occasions.

Although we are not in the position that we had hoped to have been in this race, we have had some great variable sailing conditions, have had lots of fun, two birthday celebrations, and I am for sure still learning loads and having a great time. Food has been super tasty - sooo much fresh food, we are actually finding it difficult to eat it all. We were even treated to full monty breakfast this morning-fried eggs, bacon, sausages, beans, fried bread, toast... Absolutely delicious - thanks Raff!! We even still have a couple of litres of fresh milk and a cheese board left-very posh!

This may be my last blog of the race so its's time for a wee bit of cheesey pop writing - we are the pop yacht after all (wink, wink smiley face Jamie Pearson!) I am privileged and honoured to be part of the wonderful team Ichorcoal - what an amazing bunch of people! We have been through a lot during this race, lost two teamies tragically (RIP Andy and Sarah), a few more have had to retire due to injury and illness, there has been a change of skippers, but throughout it all we have stuck together, supported each other and above all have laughed and had fun, fun, fun. A bond has been created that I don't think will ever again be replicated, a new family of friends for life. Looking forward to seeing all the extended Ichorcoal teamies in St Kats. From the start of the race on Level One training, strong friendships have been forged and even if not sailing on the same team these friendships have remained very strong and is absolutely lovely to catch up on the various stopovers and events, more friends for life!

I would not be here if it was not for all the support and encouragement from my family and friends -you all know who you are, thank you all sooo much. I have sailed thousands of miles through and across various oceans, been at sea for up to 31 days at a time, have not had a shower for this length of time, battled and overcome seasickness (Coooolin) and have been challenged both emotionally and physically - plenty of stories to tell the grandkids that's for sure!!!! It has been an experience that I will treasure for the rest of my life. We are on our way into Den Helder and looking forward to some more fun antics but also a little nostalgic with this being the last proper stopover. So I am going to love you and leave you now and enjoy the rest of the sail in - sun is shining, music playing-happy days!

"We may have lost in distance but we have gained in spirit" Psalm 14.1 Denis McCourt, Team Ichorcoal!!!!!!!

P.S. I am fundraising for the wonderful Cork Arc Cancer support centre, a haven for cancer patients and their family and friends, so all my followers, please visit my justgiving page on www.justgiving.com and donate a few bob, every little helps!! Thanks a million ;)

Love IchorCoal